PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The National Field Hockey Coaches Association has ranked Plymouth State College third in the Wave One Division III National Poll.
The Panthers, who have won 10 of their first 12 games this season, including a streak of nine in a row, are ranked behind only Lebanon Valley College (Pa.) and the College of New Jersey in the national poll, both undefeated teams.
The ranking is the highest for PSC since head coach Wynn Hohlt took over the team prior to the 1992 campaign. The Panthers are working toward a fifth straight post-season bid, having played in the NCAA Tournament in 1993 and 1994, and the ECAC New England Tourney in ’95 and ’96.
“I don’t think we’ve even been in the top 10 since I’ve been here,” said Hohlt, who has guided Plymouth State to a 72-30-1 overall record in her five-and-a-half seasons. “Even when we went 17-0 in 1993 we didn’t crack the top 10.”
After allowing UMass Lowell a come-from-behind overtime victory in the season opener on Sept. 11th, PSC regrouped and won nine straight games before dropping a 2-1 decision at Bentley College on Oct. 5th. Included in the streak were strong wins over nationally-ranked squads such as fourth-ranked Salisbury State (Md.), winning the Salisbury State Invitational, and 9th-ranked Springfield College.
“We knew we had a strong team coming into the season,” said Hohlt, “and while we were very disappointed in losing to UMass Lowell, it turns out that may have been one of the best things to happen to our team. We knew we had to get it together after that game, which we’ve done.”
The Panthers are using an outstanding senior class and strong depth to cruise past opponents. Six of the 11 starters and three solid reserves come from the senior class.
Hohlt has done a masterful job in rotating players in and out of the game, utilizing the team’s strong depth. While senior Erin Murphy (Collinsville, CT), a transfer from the University of Rhode Island, is leading the team in scoring with nine goals and four assists, including a three-goal effort last Saturday at Bridgewater State, it has been a team effort on the offensive end of the field. The Panthers have seven other players who have between three and five goals.
Joining Murphy in the scoring parade are senior Jenna Shearstone (Taunton, MA) and sophomore Jill Sutherland (Rockport, MA), who have five goals apiece, and seniors Taryn Turcotte (South Berwick, ME) and Tammi LeRoy (Barre, VT), who have come off the bench to chip in with four goals apiece. Those four also have at least two assists each.
Other contributors to the offense have included seniors Jen Martin (Saunderstown, RI) and Jen Garrity (Green, ME) and junior Kim Webster (Dover, NH), who have scored three goals each. Senior midfielder Carrie Killeen (Greenfield, MA) has a team-high five assists, and junior Boni Sordillo (Plymouth, NH) has added two assists from her starting midfield position.
The defensive unit has been solid as well, helping PSC to eight shutouts in the first 12 games. Senior Laura Hebert (Spencer, MA), junior Sarah Mello (Oak Bluffs, MA) and sophomore Shanna Bickford (Dover, NH) have formed a solid defensive wall, allowing just 67 shots on goal compared to 193 for PSC.
Junior goalkeeper Chris Peruzzi (South Portland, ME) overcame a shaky start in her collegiate debut and has settled down, allowing just nine goals in 864 minutes for a superb 0.73 goals against average. She has made 57 saves, averaging 4.6 an outing.
Other members of the varsity squad include sophomores Holly Laratta (Toms River, NJ) and Mandy Murphy (Collinsville, CT), and seniors Sarah Dodge (Sanbornton, NH), Betsy Gilbert (Barre, VT) and Michele Wilgoren (Barre, VT).